Walking out of the Georgia Dome Sunday afternoon with a little over 4 minutes left in a loss to the Minnesota Vikings that had already been clinched, I was called a “fair-weather fan” by one of our own.
If true, that could only mean one thing: you’d have to be clinically insane to be a diehard Falcons fan.
Obviously, this stranger didn’t know that the Falcons have made me the pragmatic fan I am today. I went to those games between the 1999 Super Bowl and the drafting of Michael Vick, when the team was among the worst ever. I understand what it means to stick around and watch those last 4 minutes.
I’m just not going to do it anymore for this franchise. Not until they show me something.
(Also read: Falcons now 16-27 since ditching black uniforms)
What we saw in Sunday’s 20-10 loss was nothing we hadn’t already seen this year. The Falcons are hopeless on offense, decent on defense, not good enough to get wins against any opponent that can put one foot in front of the other. This is what we have, and that was known before the Vikings came to town.
That doesn’t make it alright. This city craves a winner – really, it does – and we’re just not seeing it.
The Falcons completed a winless November, a month when they could’ve put their foot on the gas pedal and really made a statement to the rest of the NFC. Had they won all four games, they’d still be a game behind the 11-0 Carolina Panthers, but man, 10-1 after a 6-10 year would’ve been sweet.
Instead, we’re pretty sure the 5-0 start will be wasted and the Falcons will, somehow, miss the postseason entirely.
The problems haven’t been that hard to diagnose. Atlanta’s offense, which is still supposed to be its strength, has sputtered. They had just three points through much of Sunday’s loss, which is impossible for the defense to overcome. In their four November losses, the Falcons have averaged nearly three turnovers per game, and quarterback Matt Ryan has been poor in the Red Zone.
If you’re looking for me to cast most of the blame on Ryan, you’re going to be disappointed. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is not putting his offense in a position to succeed, and the offensive line still isn’t where it needs to be. Ryan cannot be expected to make smart decisions every time when defenses are constantly pushing him outside the pocket and making him run for his life. That’s not the kind of quarterback we have.
At 6-5, the Falcons will be in a must-win situation at Tampa Bay next weekend, a team to which they’ve already lost. Then, they’ll play the undefeated Panthers in two of the next three.
It doesn’t get easier from here, and that’s really bad news for a team that’s barely holding on to a playoff spot. But at this point, would you really even want to see this squad in the postseason?
Photo: AP/John BazemoreFollow @Sean_Breslin